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DEPARTMENT OF IMMIGRATION

The government of the Dakota Territory was active in promoting settlement in the territory. The Territorial Legislature authorized a Commissioner of Immigration in 1873 (S. L. 1873, Ch. 14) to publish and circulate information on the territory and to advertise in newspapers. A Bureau of Immigration superseded the Commissioner of Immigration in 1874 (S. L. 1874, Ch. 51) and consisted of five Commissioners. Two of the Commissioners were elected biennially by the voters ("...one whom shall be known and designated as the territorial superintendent") and three elected biennially by the Territorial Legislature, with one from each of the three judicial districts in the territory. The office of the Superintendent of Immigration was required to serve as a "depository of the publications of the board, and of such specimens of the agricultural products and manufactured articles of the ...territory" and to prepare "...circulars, pamphlets, maps, papers, cards, etc...." for distribution and promotional purposes.

The Bureau of Immigration was also authorized to appoint a county immigration agent for each county. The county immigration agents were authorized to travel to the "Atlantic seaboard" and other areas to attract settlers to Dakota Territory. Counties were authorized in 1874 and 1891 to levy taxes to support activities of county immigration agents. The office of the Commissioner of Immigration replaced the Bureau of Immigration in 1885 (S. L. 1885, Ch. 66). Appointed by the Governor for a two year term, the Commissioner of Immigration was to "encourage and promote the permanent settlement and improvement of all sections of the Territory" and to advertise and disseminate information on Dakota Territory. The Commissioner of Immigration was responsible for all exhibits on Dakota Territory at fairs and expositions, publication of promotional literature on the territory, and served as the Territorial Statistician.

After statehood, the Commissioner of Agriculture and Labor received responsibility for promotion of immigration in 1890 (S. L. 1890, Ch. 46) and was required to distribute information on North Dakota to induce investments in agricultural, industrial, and "mercantile pursuits," and to assist immigrants on arrival in the state. In 1899, the Commissioner of Agriculture and Labor was given an annual appropriation of $500 to publish and distribute maps and other material promoting immigration to North Dakota (S. L. 1899, Ch. 101). This law was repealed in 1901.

Authority for immigration promotion was transferred to the State Board of Immigration in 1913 (S. L. 1913, Ch. 44). Consisting of the members of the State Auditing Board (Governor, Secretary of State, State Auditor, State Treasurer, and Attorney General), the State Board of Immigration directed all promotional activities. The Commissioner of Agriculture and Labor was the "general executive agent" of the State Board of Immigration and conducted most of the promotional activities. In 1915, the composition of the State Board of Immigration changed to include the Governor as chairman, Commissioner of Agriculture and Labor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, and the president of the Board of Railroad Commissioners. The Board appointed the Commissioner of Immigration and was headquartered in the State Capitol. The State Board of Immigration was repealed in 1917 (S. L. 1917, Ch. 194).

The office of Commissioner of Immigration was created in 1919 (S. L. 1919, Ch. 46) and was appointed to a two-year term by the Governor. The Commissioner of Immigration was headquartered in the State Capitol and received an appropriation for promotional activities. The bill creating the office of the Commissioner of Immigration was referred and approved by the electorate on June 26, 1919. The office of the Commissioner of Immigration was abolished in 1933 (S. L. 1933, Ch. 190).

CHRONOLOGY

1873 Creation of the office of Commissioner of Immigration.

1874 Creation of the Bureau of Immigration; the Territorial Legislature authorized county immigration agents.

1885 The Commissioner of Immigration superseded the Bureau of Immigration.

1890-1913 The Commissioner of Agriculture and Labor assumed responsibility for immigration activities.

1913-1917 State Board of Immigration.

1919 Creation of the office of Commissioner of Immigration.

1933 Office of the Commissioner of Immigration was repealed.

SERIES

30691 Publicity Scrapbook, 1919-1920.

SOURCE

Gray, David P. Guide to the North Dakota State Archives, 1985.

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